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World 800m champion Brazier stunned at US Olympic trials

·3-min read
Clayton Murphy celebrates after winning the 800m at the US Olympic trials on Monday as world champion Donavan Brazier failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games

World 800m champion Donavan Brazier suffered a sensational upset at the US Olympic track and field trials in Oregon on Monday, finishing last in a shock final won by Clayton Murphy.

Murphy, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, produced a devastating finish to power to victory, overtaking Isaiah Jewett in the home stretch in a world-leading 1min 43.17sec.

Jewett, a student at the University of Southern California, finished second with a personal best of 1:43.85 to book his ticket to Tokyo while Bryce Hoppel finished third in 1:44.14.

But it was Brazier's listless performance that provided the biggest shock of the trials so far.

The 24-year-old 2019 World Championships gold medallist had been looking to atone for his disappointing showing at the 2016 Olympic trials, when he surprisingly bombed out in the opening round.

He had looked comfortable during Saturday's semi-finals, easily qualifying in second place from his heat behind Murphy.

In Monday's final he looked to be well-positioned heading into the final 200m, but was unable to find an extra gear as Murphy passed him and the front-runners pulled away down the stretch.

Brazier later said he had miscalculated his race, pushing too hard on the opening lap and leaving himself critically short of power in the closing stages.

"I think I might have made a move a little too early and tried to get in a better position in the first 300-350 and paid the price in the last 200," Brazier said.

- 'Very sad' -

"I'm very sad. I knew with about 200 left when Clayton passed me and I couldn't match it."

Brazier said that while he had faced some fitness issues heading into trials, his failure to qualify was down to running a sub-standard race.

"I'm having some things bugging me, but they're things that someone of championship calibre should be able to push through and nothing that I can make excuses for this race," he said.

"I just ran pretty shitty. But I'll come back from this. I've been down worse before."

Brazier's 800m upset was the highlight of day four of the US trials, which saw athletes in five other events book their places at the Tokyo Olympics.

In the men's triple jump, two-time Olympic silver medallist Will Claye -- competing in the absence of injured Olympic champion Christian Taylor -- won with a leap of 17.21m.

Claye sealed victory with his sixth jump of the competition, beating Donald Scott who was second with 17.18m and Chris Benard who was third with 17.01.

In the men's pole-vault, another reigning world champion, Sam Kendricks suffered a rare defeat. Kendricks, the 2017 and 2019 World Championships gold medallist, finished second behind Chris Nilsen.

Nilsen produced a flawless display, clearing every height through 5.90m at his first attempt. Kendricks failed three times at 5.90 to leave Nilsen in first place, with KC Lightfoot third.

Meanwhile in the 1,500m, veteran Jenny Simpson's bid for a fourth straight Olympics ended in disappointment. Simpson finished 10th in a final won by Elle Purrier St.Pierre in 3:58.03.

"I think what will be shocking will be watching the Olympics on TV," Simpson said afterwards.

"I haven’t seen an Olympic Games on TV since 2004. Maybe it’s hard for some athletes to admit but the sport goes on without you."

rcw/gph

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